The Secret Garden/Boy Version

Author's Note: I decided to have a little fun and twist a story around that I have read a lot when I was little. I've kept some stuff the same but change other stuff around. Hope you enjoy it.


11. The Nest Of The Missel Thrush

For two or three minutes she stood looking round her, while Toby watched her, and then she began to walk about softly, even more lightly than Toby had walked the first time he had found himself inside the four walls. Her eyes seemed to be taking in everything--the gray trees with the gray creepers climbing over them and hanging from their branches, the tangle on the walls and among the grass, the evergreen alcoves with the stone seats and tall flower urns standing in them.

"I never thought I'd see this place," she said at last, in a whisper.

"Did you know about it?" asked Toby.

He had spoken aloud and she made a sign to him.

"We must talk low," she said, "or some one'll hear us an' wonder what's to do in here."

"Oh! I forgot!" said Toby, feeling frightened and putting his hand quickly against his mouth. "Did you know about the garden?" he asked again when he had recovered himself. Destiny nodded.

"Mark told me there was one as no one ever went inside," she answered. "Us used to wonder what it was like."

She stopped and looked round at the lovely gray tangle about her, and her round eyes looked queerly happy.

"Eh! the nests as'll be here come springtime," she said. "It'd be th' safest nestin' place in England. No one never comin' near an' tangles o' trees an' roses to build in. I wonder all th' birds on th' moor don't build here."

Master Toby put his hand on her arm again without knowing it.

"Will there be roses?" he whispered. "Can you tell? I thought perhaps they were all dead."

"Eh! No! Not them--not all of 'em!" she answered. "Look here!"

She stepped over to the nearest tree--an old, old one with gray lichen all over its bark, but upholding a curtain of tangled sprays and branches. She took a thick knife out of her Pocket and opened one of its blades.

"There's lots o' dead wood as ought to be cut out," she said. "An' there's a lot o' old wood, but it made some new last year. This here's a new bit," and she touched a shoot which looked brownish green instead of hard, dry gray. Toby touched it himself in an eager, reverent way.

"That one?" he said. "Is that one quite alive quite?"

Destiny curved her wide smiling mouth.

"It's as wick as you or me," she said; and Toby remembered that Mark had told him that "wick" meant "alive" or "lively."

"I'm glad it's wick!" he cried out in his whisper. "I want them all to be wick. Let us go round the garden and count how many wick ones there are."

He quite panted with eagerness, and Destiny was as eager as he was. They went from tree to tree and from bush to bush. Destiny carried her knife in her hand and showed him things which he thought wonderful.

"They've run wild," she said, "but th' strongest ones has fair thrived on it. The delicatest ones has died out, but th' others has growed an' growed, an' spread an' spread, till they's a wonder. See here!" and she pulled down a thick gray, dry-looking branch. "A body might think this was dead wood, but I don't believe it is--down to th' root. I'll cut it low down an' see."

She knelt and with her knife cut the lifeless-looking branch through, not far above the earth.

"There!" she said exultantly. "I told thee so. There's green in that wood yet. Look at it."

Toby was down on his knees before she spoke, gazing with all his might.

"When it looks a bit greenish an' juicy like that, it's wick," she explained. "When th' inside is dry an' breaks easy, like this here piece I've cut off, it's done for. There's a big root here as all this live wood sprung out of, an' if th' old wood's cut off an' it's dug round, and took care of there'll be--" she stopped and lifted her face to look up at the climbing and hanging sprays above her--"there'll be a fountain o' roses here this summer."

They went from bush to bush and from tree to tree. She was very strong and clever with her knife and knew how to cut the dry and dead wood away, and could tell when an unpromising bough or twig had still green life in it. In the course of half an hour Toby thought he could tell too, and when she cut through a lifeless-looking branch he would cry out joyfully under his breath when he caught sight of the least shade of moist green. The spade, and hoe, and fork were very useful. She showed him how to use the fork while she dug about roots with the spade and stirred the earth and let the air in.

They were working industriously round one of the biggest standard roses when she caught sight of something which made her utter an exclamation of surprise.

"Why!" she cried, pointing to the grass a few feet away. "Who did that there?"

It was one of Toby's own little clearings round the pale green points.

"I did it," said Toby.

Why, I thought tha' didn't know nothin' about gardenin'," she exclaimed.

"I don't," he answered, "but they were so little, and the grass was so thick and strong, and they looked as if they had no room to breathe. So I made a place for them. I don't even know what they are."

Destiny went and knelt down by them, smiling her wide smile.

"Tha' was right," she said. "A gardener couldn't have told thee better. They'll grow now like Jack's bean-stalk. They're crocuses an' snowdrops, an' these here is narcissuses," turning to another patch, "an here's daffydowndillys. Eh! they will be a sight."

She ran from one clearing to another.

"Tha' has done a lot o' work for such a little lad," she said, looking him over.

"I'm growing fatter," said Toby, "and I'm growing stronger. I used always to be tired. When I dig I'm not tired at all. I like to smell the earth when it's turned up."

"It's rare good for thee," she said, nodding her head wisely. "There's naught as nice as th' smell o' good clean earth, except th' smell o' fresh growin' things when th' rain falls on 'em. I get out on th' moor many a day when it's rainin' an' I lie under a bush an' listen to th' soft swish o' drops on th' heather an, I just sniff an, sniff. My nose end fair quivers like a rabbit's, father says."

"Do you never catch cold?" inquired Toby, gazing at her wonderingly. He had never seen such a funny girl, or such a nice one.

"Not me," she said, grinning. "I never ketched cold since I was born. I wasn't brought up nesh enough. I've chased about th' moor in all weathers same as th' rabbits does. Father says I've sniffed up too much fresh air for twelve year' to ever get to sniffin' with cold. I'm as tough as a white-thorn knobstick."

She was working all the time she was talking and Toby was following her and helping her with his fork or the trowel.

"There's a lot of work to do here!" she said once, looking about quite exultantly.

"Will you come again and help me to do it?" Toby begged. "I'm sure I can help, too. I can dig and pull up weeds, and do whatever you tell me. Oh! do come, Destiny!"

"I'll come every day if tha' wants me, rain or shine," she answered stoutly. "It's the best fun I ever had in my life-- shut in here an' wakenin' up a garden."

"If you will come," said Toby, "if you will help me to make it alive I'll--I don't know what I'll do," he ended helplessly. What could you do for a girl like that?

"I'll tell thee what tha'll do," said Destiny, with her happy grin. "Tha'll get fat an' tha'll get as hungry as a young fox an' tha'll learn how to talk to th' robin same as I do. Eh! we'll have a lot o' fun."

She began to walk about, looking up in the trees and at the walls and bushes with a thoughtful expression.

"I wouldn't want to make it look like a gardener's garden, all clipped an' spick an' span, would you?" she said. "It's nicer like this with things runnin' wild, an' swingin' an' catchin' hold of each other."

"Don't let us make it tidy," said Toby anxiously. "It wouldn't seem like a secret garden if it was tidy."

Destiny stood rubbing her rusty-red head with a rather puzzled look. "It's a secret garden sure enough," she said, "but seems like some one besides th' robin must have been in it since it was shut up ten year' ago."

"But the door was locked and the key was buried," said Toby. "No one could get in."

"That's true," she answered. "It's a queer place. Seems to me as if there'd been a bit o' prunin' done here an' there, later than ten year' ago."

"But how could it have been done?" said Toby.

She was examining a branch of a standard rose and she shook her head.

"Aye! how could it!" she murmured. "With th' door locked an' th' key buried."

Master Toby always felt that however many years he lived he should never forget that first morning when his garden began to grow. Of course, it did seem to begin to grow for him that morning. When Destiny began to clear places to plant seeds, he remembered what Bailey had sung at him when she wanted to tease him.

"Are there any flowers that look like bells?" he inquired.

"Lilies o' th' valley does," she answered, digging away with the trowel, "an' there's Canterbury bells, an' campanulas."

"Let's plant some," said Toby. "There's lilies o' th, valley here already; I saw 'em. They'll have growed too close an' we'll have to separate 'em, but there's plenty. Th' other ones takes two years to bloom from seed, but I can bring you some bits o' plants from our cottage garden. Why does tha' want 'em?"

Then Toby told her about Bailey and her brothers and sisters in Antarctica and of how he had hated them and of their calling her "Master Toby Quite Contrary."

"They used to dance round and sing at me. They sang--

'Master Toby, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And marigolds all in a row.'

I just remembered it and it made me wonder if there were really flowers like silver bells."

He frowned a little and gave his trowel a rather spiteful dig into the earth.

"I wasn't as contrary as they were."

But Destiny laughed.

"Eh!" she said, and as she crumbled the rich black soil he saw she was sniffing up the scent of it. "There doesn't seem to be no need for no one to be contrary when there's flowers an' such like, an' such lots o' friendly wild things runnin' about makin' homes for themselves, or buildin' nests an' singin' an' whistlin', does there?"

Toby, kneeling by her holding the seeds, looked at her and stopped frowning.

"Destiny," he said, "you are as nice as Mark said you were. I like you, and you make the fifth person. I never thought I should like five people."

Destiny sat up on her heels as Mark did when he was polishing the grate. She did look funny and delightful, Toby thought, with her round blue eyes and red cheeks and happy looking turned-up nose.

"Only five folk as tha' likes?" she said. "Who is th' other four?"

"Your father and Mark," Toby checked them off on his fingers, "and the robin and Beth Weatherstaff."

Destiny laughed so that she was obliged to stifle the sound by putting her arm over her mouth.

"I know tha' thinks I'm a queer lass," she said, "but I think tha' art th' queerest little lad I ever saw."

Then Toby did a strange thing. He leaned forward and asked her a question he had never dreamed of asking any one before. And he tried to ask it in Yorkshire because that was her language.

"Does tha' like me?" he said.

"Eh!" she answered heartily, "that I does. I likes thee wonderful, an' so does th' robin, I do believe!"

"That's two, then," said Toby. "That's two for me."

And then they began to work harder than ever and more joyfully. Toby was startled and sorry when he heard the big clock in the courtyard strike the hour of his midday dinner.

"I shall have to go," he said mournfully. "And you will have to go too, won't you?"

Destiny grinned.

"My dinner's easy to carry about with me," she said. "Father always lets me put a bit o' somethin' in my pocket."

She picked up her coat from the grass and brought out of a pocket a lumpy little bundle tied up in a quite clean, coarse, blue and white handkerchief. It held two thick pieces of bread with a slice of something laid between them.

"It's oftenest naught but bread," she said, "but I've got a fine slice o' fat bacon with it today."

Toby thought it looked a queer dinner, but she seemed ready to enjoy it.

"Run on an' get thy victuals," she said. "I'll be done with mine first. I'll get some more work done before I start back home."

She sat down with her back against a tree.

"I'll call th' robin up," she said, "and give him th' rind o' th' bacon to peck at. They likes a bit o' fat wonderful."

Toby could scarcely bear to leave her. Suddenly it seemed as if she might be a sort of wood fairy who might be gone when he came into the garden again. She seemed too good to be true. He went slowly half-way to the door in the wall and then he stopped and went back.

"Whatever happens, you--you never would tell?" he said.

Her poppy-colored cheeks were distended with her first big bite of bread and bacon, but she managed to smile encouragingly.

"If tha' was a missel thrush an' showed me where thy nest was, does tha' think I'd tell any one? Not me," she said. "Tha' art as safe as a missel thrush."

And he was quite sure he was.

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